In this section, Jesus answers the disciples’ question about when the end is coming in the most vague way possbile.
- V1 – The temple was really magnificent to behold. Picture lots of marble and lots of gold catching the rays of the setting sun. My ESV says “The road from Jerusalem to Bethany, where Jesus and his disciples stay each evening, takes one alongside the Mount of Olives, which affords a spectacular view of the temple in the distance.”
- V2 – More ESV notes on the fulfillment of this prophecy: “Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the temple was fulfilled in AD 70 when the Roman army under Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Not…one stone upon another may be intended as a metaphor for total destruction, or it may be understood as something that was literally fulfilled in the destruction of the temple building itself (but not the entire Temple Mount, some of which remains to this day).”
- V3 – “The sign of Your coming…” – At this point I don’t think the disciples are thinking Jesus is going to leave earth and come back, I think they’re asking when Jesus is planning on coming into power.
◊ When I ask God when He’s going to do something I expect or want, the answer (and reality) may be waaaay different than my expectations.
- V4-14 – Here’s another tidbit from the ESV notes: “Jesus’ answer to the disciples questions apparently intertwines prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and his second coming. The near event (the destruction of Jerusalem) serves as a symbol and foreshadowing of the more distant event (the second coming).”
- V5-8 – All these things have happened and will happen from basically the beginning of man until Christ’s return. They’re just part of what’s broken about earth and humankind will have to suffer them until Jesus returns and there is a new heaven and new earth without them. This makes for a long labor (rolling with Jesus’ childbirth metaphor) but we’re on God’s time which is completely different than ours.
- V9-11 – These things have all happened as a result of Christ on earth, the message He preached, and people’s response to it. It has also been happening since He left for heaven and will happen until He returns.
- V9-11 – Here’s an interesting note from the Life Application Study Bible: “You may not be facing intense persecution now, but Christians in other parts of the world are. As you hear about Christians suffering for their faith, remember that they are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray for them. Ask God what you can do to help them in their troubles. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. But when all the parts join together to ease the suffering, the whole body benefits (1 Cor. 12:26).”
- V12 – Whoa! Stop and think about this one for a minute! This is us. We have become callous and numb to what should break our hearts because of our culture’s slipping moral code and our increased isolation form each other’s need, among other things.
◊ Father, warm my love! Help me to see people as You see them.
- V13 – To the end of the world or the end of your life, whichever comes first.
- V14 – So here’s the actual answer to the disciples’ question, vague though it may be.
◊ Am I doing my part in spreading the gospel to all nations?
- V15 – Here’s what the ESV has to say about this one: “Daniel 9:27 tells of the abomination of desolation. SEveral times in Jewish history it was thought that this prophecy was being fulfilled – most notably during the days of the Maccabees when Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid king, ordered that an altar to the Greek god Zeus be constructed in the temple (167 B.C.)… But Jesus clarifies that the complete fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy will be found in (1) the Roman destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 and (2) the image of the Antichrist being set up in the last days (cf. 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:14).
- V16-20 – Point is, wehn you see the image of the Antichrist in the temple, get the heck out of dodge and find a place to hide because things are going to get miserable.
◊ Am I taking this seriously?
- V21 – This is bad. Thnk of how many awful things people have endured from the beginning of time until now: in Jerusalem, in Germany, in Somalia, in Eastern Europe, in the Middle East, the list could go on and on – every country, every continent where there are people has a history of people doing horrific things to other people. The things that are going to go down in the end times will be worse than all of that. Check out the first sentence in v22!
◊ This is serious. I should take this seriously.
- V23 – We should always watch out for people trying to teach us the wrong things, but especially during this time of tribulation (if we’re still around) we should not trust anyone who says they are Christ returned. It will be obvious to everyone on the face of the planet when Christ has returned (Mark 13:26) so if not everyone agrees that an individual who claims to be Jesus is Jesus, then it’s not Jesus!
- V25 – This warning is not only for the disciples, but for us.
- V28 – Here’s what the ESV has to say about this one: “It seems best not to “over-interpret” this striking proberbial expression. It probably means simply that, just as people from far away can see vultures circling high in the air, Christ’s return in judgment will be visible and predictable. A similar view is that the vultures suggest the widespread death that will accompany the return of Christ to judge those who have rejected his kingdom. In either case, it will be impossible for people not to see adn recognize the return of Christ.” But here’s how The Message translates it: 26-28 “So if they say, ‘Run to the country and see him arrive!’ or, ‘Quick, get downtown, see him come!’ don’t give them the time of day. The Arrival of the Son of Man isn’t something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you! Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it’s not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds.”
Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:
- Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
- What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
- Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
- What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
- What do these verses move me to pray for myself?